Times People Threatened To Assassinate Joe Biden

When a mob of insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 in an attempt to block the handover of power to President-elect Joe Biden, politicians, commentators, and historians denounced what was then an unprecedented instance of modern political violence. A Senate report found that at least seven people died in connection with the attack, and dozens were injured. Since then, over a thousand people have been charged for their involvement in the events of January 6, accused of offenses such as trespassing, assaulting police officers, disrupting Congress, and seditious conspiracy.

Despite the riot posing an existential threat to democracy and causing widespread shock, the threat of violence in the U.S. has only risen since 2021. That year, an article in the Journal of Democracy claimed that violent groups had grown more active as a result of societal events and had been "ignited" to political ends. Indeed, in recent months politicians, prosecutors, and other public figures have been targeted by threats and alleged violent plots. Several of these have been against the president himself, with both dangerous rhetoric and conspiracy theories propelling the threat.

May 2020: A teenager in North Carolina

Even before Joe Biden won the Presidential Election in 2020 he had become a target for potential violence. As reported by CNBC, in May that year police in Kannapolis, North Carolina arrested a 19-year-old named Alexander Treisman after he was discovered to be carrying a concealed weapon. Police also investigated a van and a car belonging to Treisman, and they found numerous firearms including a Sig Sauer AR Rifle, a 9 mm Luger, a Kel-Tec Sub-2000, a .22-caliber rifle, and a Russian Mosin Nagant M91/30 bolt-action rifle. They also confiscated suspicious drawings, books on weapons and bomb-making, and more than $500,000 in cash. In an interview with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Treisman admitted an interest in terrorism.

As court documents reportedly show, Treisman's internet post history also revealed that he appeared to be considering performing a mass shooting of civilians, claiming that he "was going to do a columbine for a while," referring to the notorious school shooting of 1999 that resulted in the deaths of 15 people including the two gunmen. However, Treisman added: "I think it would be better to put it towards something more memorable" before later posing the question, "Should I kill joe biden [sic]?"

Treisman had seemingly been traveling from state to state amassing weapons, and he was also in possession of several bumper plates and a cache of electronic devices. A number of these devices were found to be storing child sex images, for which he was later charged.

July 2022: A man in Alabama

Not only do alleged potential presidential assassins sometimes post about their plans on social media, they sometimes take steps to inform the president directly. As AL.com reported, in July 2022 a man from Mobile, Alabama, was taken into custody after contacting the White House to make a direct threat to the presidential office.

According to an affidavit, on July 10 the White House switchboard received a message from an anonymous caller, which went: "I am coming to assassinate the president. I can't wait to see your faces when I put a bullet in him." After the White House alerted the United States Secret Service's Protective Intelligence Operations Center, the call was traced to a hotel, where the alleged caller, John Andrew Bazor Jr., was staying at the time.

Bazor Jr.'s mother testified that her son had attempted to convince her to rent a vehicle for a journey to Washington D.C, but also highlighted his history of mental illness. He had been arrested several times since 2008 and had once threatened to blow up a hotel in Mobile. In January 2024, it was reported that he was sentenced to time served after admitting to making the threat, according to AL.com.

August 2023: A man in Utah

Though some who threaten presidential assassination — like John Andrew Bazor Jr. — get off relatively lightly, such threats can often prove to have fatal consequences for those who make them. In August 2023, a Utah man named Craig Deleeuw Robertson was shot and killed by FBI agents who had arrived at his residence in the city of Provo to serve warrant papers for his arrest.

Robertson was active on social media, where he identified as a "MAGA Trumper" and was vocal in his opposition to leaders of the Democratic Party and the Joe Biden administration, according to PBS. Robertson had posted a message in September stating that "The time is right for a presidential assassination or two. First Joe then Kamala!!!" He added that he was intending to "dust off" his sniper rifle and camouflage gear for the occasion. The FBI arrived at Robertson's residence at dawn, hours before President Biden was due to land in Utah, and the suspect was reportedly armed at the time of their deadly confrontation.

April 2023: A man in Montana

Those caught making threats against the life of the president of the United States — or any politician for that matter — can face lengthy jail sentences and livelihood-destroying fines if they are convicted. For example, in an indictment obtained by the Daily Montanan, 30-year-old Montana man Anthony James Cross is accused of having threatened both President Joe Biden and Montana's Democratic Senator Jon Tester via YouTube comments. Cross was taken into custody in April 2023 after an unrelated incident in which he is alleged to have threatened a neighbor with a pellet gun. He had made the threats the same month.

A September press release from the District of Montana stated that Cross faced a decade in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if found guilty of the charge of threatening the president. He initially pleaded not guilty to both charges at a court hearing held the same month. However, in January 2024 news outlets reported that Cross had changed his plea to guilty. It was revealed that he admitted to making the comments — he said Tester would have a "horrible death" and claimed he would "personally kill Joe Biden," according to KTVQ.

Anthony James Cross is one of three men in just the state of Montana alone who have found themselves in legal trouble after threats against politicians. Yet the prevalence of such cases has seemingly done little to quell the unfortunate phenomenon of posting death threats against the president on their social media channels.

Novemeber 2023: A man in Arizona

In January 2024, Arizona's Family reported that a man named David Michael Hanson of Phoenix, Arizona had been charged with threatening the president and his vice president — Kamala Harris — in social media posts written in November and December 2023. It was alleged that Hanson had posted messages on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, which threatened murder alongside skull emojis and chilling hashtags he had created such as "#theDeathofJoeBidenAndKamala." Hanson reportedly also once threatened the University of New Mexico after his offer to study at the institution was withdrawn. 

He faces a total of 10 criminal charges, though in early court appearances he argued that his threats were nothing more than attention-seeking and a way for him to vent his anger. According to a Tucson Sentinel report, Hanson has claimed that he was unaware that making such threats is illegal. As of this writing, he has yet to be convicted.